Water expert says Egypt sought ‘positive’ IPoE report kept secret

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Addis Ababa, 17 April 2014 (WIC) – An independent water expert said Egypt wanted a report by the International Panel of Experts, which assessed the impacts of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, to be kept secret.

In an interview with UK’s The Guardian, Dr Ana Cascão, a researcher at the Stockholm International Water Institute whose doctoral thesis analysed hydropolitics in the Nile basin, argued that the study is largely optimistic about GERD’s impacts.

"That's why Egypt was not happy for it to be released," Cascão said. “In terms of dam safety and even in terms of water going downstream – the report is quite positive," she added.

The report was prepared by six experts, two each from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, and four international experts. The IPoE submitted the report to the three countries in May 2013 but it has not been made public yet.

Cascão said the GERD may eventually help reduce the build-up of sediment in downstream dams like the Aswan High Dam, increasing capacity. She said the dam will also help to keep the Nile's flow constant throughout the year.

“In terms of structural safety, Sudan – the country most endangered by any catastrophe at the GERD – is satisfied with its construction,” the expert said.

Cascão also said Egypt's interests may actually be aligned with Ethiopia's, since Ethiopia will ultimately want to see as much water flow through the GERD as possible in order to maximise hydroelectric power.

The expert’s remark is in stark contrast to International River Network’s (IRN) statement on 31 March 2014 which called for the halt of the construction of the GERD.
Ethiopia’s National Panel of Experts (NPoE) was quick to rebuff IRN’s remark in a strongly worded statement.

NPoE accused IRN of siding with Egypt and waging a proxy campaign on behalf of the latter to undermine Ethiopia’s efforts to utilize its water resources and extricate the country from poverty.

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